The Natchez Trace Parkway: The History
The Natchez Trace Parkway
If you have haven't traveled the Natchez Trace Parkway, you've missed out on beautiful scenery and the feeling of traveling in our ancestor's footsteps.
Please take this journey with me, as we travel from Natchez, Mississippi, northward up this historic highway, check out the beauty and feel the history.
The Journey Begins
On the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway is the city of Natchez, Mississippi. It was established by French colonists in 1716 and is one of the oldest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. Natchez served several important purposes in the history of the State of Mississippi, as well as the entire country. It was the capital of the Mississippi Territory, and when Mississippi gained statehood, it became the capital of the state until the City of Jackson was named capital in 1822. The city contains many antebellum homes and is noted for its historic district, "Natchez-Under-The-Hill," which in its early days was considered the most notorious town on the Mississippi River.
At the beginning of the growth of the United States, Natchez was the center of trade and exchange of goods between Native American, European, and African-Americans. It was considered to be part of the original old Southwest.
Elizabeth Female College
As we travel up the Natchez Trace, we reach milepost 5.1, where it is believed the very first college degrees were given women in the United States. The college was Elizabeth Female College, and all that remains of the original buildings is a brick wall.
As we continue north on this historic road, you'll find a section of the old Natchez Trace. Its worn condition, which was caused by many footsteps and wagon wheels of old, makes it appear as a ditch instead of a road.
Emerald Mound, one of the largest Indian ceremonial mounds in the United States, is a flat-topped earthen structure that rises 35 feet high on eight acres along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Emerald was built and occupied between 1250 and 1600 AD by the ancestors of the Natchez People, an Indian Tribe.
We are moving north again, but not for long. We must stop at Grindstone Ford/Mangum Mound at milepost 45.7. The National Park Service gives the following information about this stop. "Grindstone Ford - This ford marked the beginning of the wilderness of the Choctaw Nation and the end of the Old Natchez District. Nearby Fort Deposit was a supply depot for troops clearing the Trace in 1801-1802, and troops were assembled here during the Burr conspiracy allegedly to separate the western states from the Union. The site takes its name from a nearby water mill.
The trail to your left takes you takes you to the Old Trace and Grindstone Ford. Riverboatmen on foot or horseback crossed here, northbound, after floating cargo down to Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. Soldiers splashed across from the north to protect the Natchez District from British and Spanish threats. For post riders, Indians, bandits, and preachers, Bayou Pierre was the line between civilization and the wilderness.
As we proceed north we see the Turpin Creek picnic area, and the Loess Bluff area, where deposits of topsoil where blown during the ice ages. Some tourists stop at Bullen Creek and take the 15 minute, self-guided tour through a beautiful forest of hardwood and pine trees.
A little further up we reach mile marker 41.5, where we stretch our legs on the "Sunken Trace." The Trace appears sunken in this spot due to thousands of travelers walking on the easily eroded loess soil. This short trail will allow you to walk on the Natchez Trace just as thousands have before you.
Daniel Burnett's Stand
Daniel Burnett's stand stood near here. Burnett was the speaker of the Territorial House of Representatives, a principal negotiator with the Choctaws, and a framer of the state constitution but his stand was unpretentious. His guests supped on mush and milk in a room filled with their own gear and Burnett's supplies. From here you may follow their path along the Old Trace to Grindstone Ford."
Journey up the Trace Will Continue
Watch the video below, provided by the National Park ServiceOur journey up the Natchez Trace Parkway will continue with our next segment, which will be published soon, so please stay tuned.
Natchez Trace Compact - http://scenictrace.com
National Park Service https://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm
National Park Service https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/natchez-trace-parkway
© 2019 Gerry Glenn Jones